I’ve been a huge Atlanta Braves fan for years and I’m ecstatic that they are relevant again. A few years ago, I attended a game with an old friend. It was in Chipper Jones’ final season, so we splurged on tickets calculating that it could be the last time that we’d ever watch this future hall of famer play.
Our seats were amazing, but the Braves weren’t. We were down 8-0 in the third inning. The Braves took the pitcher out and replaced him with a new guy that showed some promise. By the fifth inning, the Braves capped off an amazing comeback with a grand slam to tie the game at 8-8. All of the fans were going crazy, only to find out that the new pitcher’s success would be short lived. By the seventh inning, we were down again 14-8. We fans were all fatigued. But, in the ninth inning, we tied it up again! Extra innings!
Finally, Chipper Jones came up in the 15th inning. Like me, most of the fans were emotionally exhausted. But, Chipper strode to the plate like a superhero, as if in slow motion. He hit a long foul ball, home run distance, and the crowd went wild. But, it was nothing but a loud, harmless strike. And then, it happened. That smooth left-handed swing that we’d seen a million times connected with a fastball and shot like a cannon. That little white ball sailed easily over the right field fence. Chipper Jones won the game.
We and the 40,000 other fans were screaming our heads off. Everyone was running around like wild maniacs hugging complete strangers as we all skipped happily through the stadium concourse and to our cars. This was our response. I think it was appropriate. We were all elated that the Braves won. But it was just a game.
That experience made me wonder how something of little long-term significance, like a baseball game, could move my body and soul leap in such a way that acting like an idiot seemed like the only right thing to do. Yet, my usual response to the Savior who died in my place receives maybe a few cursory tears of joy and some relatively muted expressions of excitement.
When did I decide that I ought to remain calm about my salvation? I mean, don’t get me wrong, maybe we don’t need to be running up and down the aisles at church hugging one another during the “welcome time” exclaiming how excited we are that we’ve been rescued from hell. But, wait a minute…isn’t it pretty exciting that those of us who are in Christ will spend eternity in heaven and not hell, like we deserve? How should a guilty sinner respond?
And here’s the irony of it all: Jesus, the one who is worshiped, the one who has earned a seat at the right hand of the throne of God, the one whose name is above every name, the one who has no beginning and no end, unapologetically rejoices over us.
It’s true, I don’t think any of us manifest our love for the Lord Jesus the way we ought. Frankly, I don’t often live as if I believe that the gospel is that big of a deal. But here’s the question that I’m pondering: how does Jesus feel about the gospel and our salvation?
I know it’s dicey to try to enter into Jesus’ mind and heart, but we do have some Biblical data upon which to rely. Jesus considered the cross a “joy” that was set before him. We are his joy (Heb. 12:2). When he thinks of us, he rejoices. He sings over us. Although he endured excruciating pain on our behalf, it was his joy and his gracious choice to deliver us (Isa. 6:8). He’s the victor. He’s the winner and he’s unapologetically excited about us (Zeph. 3:17).
Does it feel irreverent to consider that Jesus just might be excited about us? I think the Bible affirms this idea. It simply paints too many pictures of the outrageous love that he lavishes over us. The father ran to his rebellious prodigal son and put a ring on his finger. The man who owns 100 sheep irrationally leaves the 99 for the sake of the one who is lost and rejoices when he is found (Luke 15). We are called the apple of the Lord’s eye (Psa. 17:8, Prov. 7:2, Zech. 2:8). For heaven’s sake, he’s our bridegroom! The list goes on and on. The fact is: the love of Jesus isn’t sensible. It is overwhelming, spectacular, and quite over-the-top.
Maybe Jesus isn’t out of control like I was at the Braves stadium that day, but the Biblical evidence is mind-boggling: he loves us outrageously. I would do well to respond more passionately as I meditate on the love of God. But, whether I do respond more passionately or not, he outdoes my excitement every time.
About the Author:
Sue Harris serves the congregation at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church (Birmingham) as the Women’s Ministry Director. She has a passion for spiritual formation as she earned her Master of Arts degree in Biblical Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Atlanta in 2014. She served Mission to the World for nine years challenging PCA congregations in missions as well as serving missionaries on the field through encouragement, teaching and short-term teams. Previously, she spent 12 years as a college women’s basketball coach, earning her MBA at Texas Woman’s University.